Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Looking at a Good Book

Some people may forsake the printed page for the Kindle or the Nook or the iPhone (agh), but I am a book lover. I like to hold a book, to turn pages, to mark my place, and to gaze at my favorites on the shelf. A book should not only contain art, but be art.

I have copies of many fine works of literature, but many of them are falling apart, and some, when I search for them, turn out to have been lost in one of our moves. I am sorely tempted to replace all my bedraggled favorites with the new Penguin Hardcover Editions. Already I've picked up two of them, Little Women and Jane Eyre. They are a delight for the senses as well as the mind -- clothbound covers with charming designs, a ribbon bookmark, and nice substantial paper. I'm reading Little Women to the girls now, and they enjoy holding the book as much as looking at it. Perhaps years from now, they'll not only remember the story of the four sisters, but our copy with the scissors on the cover.

The only quibble I have is that these editions are not signature-sewn, which means they won't last as long as the lesser but older books on my shelf. Perhaps there have been enough advances in glue technology that these editions will last to be passed on through the family -- I hope so.


Brandon said...

My grandfather for a while was a Heritage Club subscriber. He eventually stopped because he got tired of having to move all the books. But the Heritage editions, all of which are nice hardcover books with good binding, good paper, good typography and illustration, passed to me, and it's very nice having them, both as a legacy and for the experience of reading them.

mrsdarwin said...

"both as a legacy and for the experience of reading them."

Very nicely put! We've picked up a few Heritage Club books at library book sales, and they're just gorgeous.

We also have a number of Everyman Editions which are quite substantial. We don't tend to buy a book unless we're sure we want to keep it and re-read it, so we prefer hardcovers that can stand up to some use.

I don't mind getting used library editions with the library binding (if they're not too destroyed) because those books hold up to just about anything.

Julia said...

I indulged in a new book purchase today, and had that giddy "I have a secret!" feeling the whole way home on the subway. Even the weight of the book in the bag was enjoyable.

Our general approach with newer books is to find out about them on Amazon, then click open our library web site and see if they're available yet. That doesn't always work well for faith-related reading (we live in a liberal, mainly agnostic city). Our best buys on classics have been at estate sales, used book stores, and library sales.

My husband has a couple of shelves of Library of America books; those are nicely made, but mainly collections.

Melanie B said...

I remember so vividly finding the copy of Little Women/Good Wive/Little Men that my mother had left on my bedroom shelf: a red cloth binding embossed with gold lettering, beautiful endpapers, lovely illustrations. The book itself was such a thing of beauty, I felt like I'd discovered a rare treasure.

CMinor said...

Love the cover designs!
Good luck with the glue--some of our Harry Potters started falling apart after surprisingly little use. I think I used Aileen's Tacky to put them back together.

I, too, once had a positively wonderful illustrated Little Women I received as a girl. Alas, one of our dogs ate it.

Sarah Reinhard said...

Ooooo. Not sure if I should thank you for this...except that I successfully resisted the temptation to pick up a couple. (Did, however, send the link to my husband.)